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DIY Distillation Columns

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Posted by Curbie on January 8, 2010, 2:59 pm

I've taken a pretty hard look at mobile fuels (SVO, Bio-diesel,
Ethanol, Methane, Hydrogen, and Electricity) and the only one in my
view that has a sustainable DIY potential on a home-scale is ethanol.
I base my conclusion on the ability to grow and process the feedstock,
the cost of equipment and energy to process the fuel, the cost of
engines and conversion to run the fuel, and fuel density.

I've accumulated a lot of DIY documentation over the years and the
best DIY distillation column I've been able to find is called the
"Charles 803":

This distillation column is reportedly capable of 5 gallons of 180
proof ethanol per hour.
1)    Has anyone seen the blue-prints for one of these???
2)    Do they differ much from the plans given in the
3)    Does anyone have (or know anyone that has) experience with one
of these???
4)    Does anyone know of a better DIY home-scale design???



Posted by Jim Wilkins on January 8, 2010, 3:05 pm

Lindsay is a good source for DIY technical books:


Posted by Curbie on January 8, 2010, 6:31 pm


There are a lot of free e-books on-line for free:

The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel

Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel

They are not "State of the Art", but there's a ton of good information
in them, they cover in great detail feedstock, crop yields,
fermentation, and distillation, although the distillation columns in
these publications seem dated.



Posted by Jim Wilkins on January 8, 2010, 7:10 pm

In case you haven't encountered the chemical engineering terminology;

Pebbles, marbles or broken glass work well for the column packing. It
will be more efficient if you regulate the heat to maintain flow rate
and the temperature at the top of the column, but that generally means
electric heaters.

The remaining 10% water can be removed with zeolites, sometimes used
as kitty litter.

jsw, BS Chem 69

Posted by Curbie on January 9, 2010, 12:04 am


Has the best Bubble cap plate column image/description I've seen (not
the easiest DIY build or to clean), but an interesting .PDF in the
"external links".



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